The Big Dog, George, a case of the flu and a 3-9 Bucks start

Michael Redd made a rare appearance in Milwaukee last week, serving pre-Thanksgiving meals at the House of Peace on 17th and Walnut.  Redd said the House of Peace charity was kind of tradition handed down to him by Ray Allen, which — though it’s great that Redd continues on with the charity — isn’t exactly true.

His comments did bring back a memory of another Bucks team that went into a season with high expectations and started badly — worse even than this season’s frustrating 5-9 start.  Let’s turn back the clock to November 2000 and the annual House of Peace meal.  This, of course, is a true story.

The House of Peace giving was something a lot of players on the Bucks did, and usually coach George Karl was doing the passing as far as who was going to go with him to serve Thanksgiving meals from year to year.  In Redd’s rookie year (2000, when he was a practice player) Big Dog and Karl served dinners at the House of Peace.  Dog and George came back from the event with a nasty flu bug that infected half the team and dogged the Bucks to a 3-9 start.

Big Dog was so sick he missed a game. Karl, who was just as sick, did not.  George stewed on it for a couple of days, and when Dog and Sam and Jason Caffey were dragging it a little bit during a road travel transfer (they were probably stoned), Karl blew up.   Big Dog, still sick as a dog (but probably stoned) snapped back, starting a bunch of rumors that the Dog and George had stopped talking to one another.  Dog and Sam were punished by having to start a game on the bench.  This was also around the time that Ray and Big Dog were stripped of their co-captaincy and the “C” was sewn onto Ervin Johnson’s jersey.

It was at that point that the 3-9 “Big Three” Bucks returned to Milwaukee for a few games and Big Dog went on a rebounding and scoring tear that ignited the rest of the team — those who could be ignited — some (like Ray, who never took criticism from George Karl very well) were still woozy with the flu (Dog and George, who had it first, got well first).  But by December everybody was healthy, Ray’s head was clear and his shot was falling at devastating regularity and the Bucks finished the season out 49-21.  The rest is crooked refereeing history.

George has always taken credit for managing the 2000-01 team in such a way, just the right way, that made the magic possible.  Karl deserves the credit.  But in looking back at how the season started, and how and when it turned around, I can’t help but wonder close the Bucks were to imploding, and how easily Karl might have missed the connection, that magical NBA championship-worthy thing the Bucks had going in 2001.

What if … Karl that November had served House of Peace dinners with a player NOT named Glenn Robinson?

7 thoughts on “The Big Dog, George, a case of the flu and a 3-9 Bucks start

  1. Kevin

    I was referring to the lack of offense with Luc and Brockman and the guards struggling. Gooden can be taken out. if necessary, but he knows where the basket is.
    Didn’t know about CDR playing tonight. I feel a rout is coming.

  2. J.D. Mo. Post author

    I was trying not to harp too much on Gooden, but when you’re not rotating on D and making Jason Maxiell look like David West, you’ve got to take a seat. This has happened far too many times this season.
    When Bogut comes back, I hope we’ll see Skiles go back to Mbah a Moute as his starting power forward and then play match-ups with Ersan and Gooden backing them up.
    And now that Chris Douglas-Roberts can play, I hope we don’t see Skiles stick with Salmons, who still doesn’t have any energy. Skiles has to forget the contracts and go with the wing players who play best with Jennings — and this is a chance for CDR with Jennings, who’ll be looking tonight to do a lot of damage against the Bobcats.

  3. Kevin

    It’s obvious this team needed some new faces, but letting Ridnour walk was the letdown of the offseason. That and not having a backup center probably made the difference in some of these losses. Skiles quick hook of the starting frontline against Detroit should finally convince him to change that starting lineup. I only see three wins between now and the end of December unless they turn it around.

  4. J.D. Mo. Post author

    I think we’re seeing the same forces combine this year — a handful of gut-wrenching losses, a bad match-up or two, early season health issues — by themselves these make a recipe for a bad record. But this year’s Bucks also added a lot of new faces to the rotation, guys that aren’t mixing in as much as they seem to be asserting a new core. No way that happens with S am “I am” running the show and Big Dog and Ray demanding the ball — but then Sam was no second year player. This season is beginning to look like a lessons-in-losing course for Jennings. … Hopefully, BJ’s a quick study.

  5. Kevin

    The 2001 team also was 2-0 against Utah, making it 8-0 against the top teams in the West. But they were 0-8 against the second level, Seattle, Houston, Phoenix and Minnesota.
    There were also a lot of close gut wrenching losses in the first half of last year. Will Redd be this year’s second half leader? Or will Delfino and CDR provide the punch?

  6. J.D. Mo. Post author

    That Bucks team also ran the table on the top teams in the West that year, 6-0 vs. the Lakers, Kings and Spurs, and split with the Mavs.

    It was good to see Sanders and Dooling contribute — if not for those two they’d have been playing from behind and probably not in a position to regret losing it. They’ve got some things to work on but they can’t catch a break – five losses at the wire or in OT so far.
    I think with Boykins you get into the question of whether he can guard people, and it’s probably better in the long run to play Dooling — who can guard people — so he can get off the snide. Both guys are capable of some much needed good shooting off the bench.

  7. Kevin

    That 51-31 team also had to go to Miami and Orlando in December and they won both games. Then they went west and beat LA, among others. But the East was watered down that year and the team’s shortcomings were exposed in later years. But they could shoot! This years team is the exact opposite, they rebound and play D.
    Good to see Sanders contribute, it’s hard to do playing 2 minutes per week. And where is Boykins? If one bad game put every player on the bench, we would have to forfeit.

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